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Unformatted text preview: Criteria and Significance of Dietary Protein Sources in Humans The Protein DigestibilityCorrected Amino Acid Score 1 Gertjan Schaafsma Center of Expertise Nutrition, DMV International-Campina Melkunie, 6700 AA, Wageningen, the Netherlands ABSTRACT The protein digestibilitycorrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) has been adopted by FAO/WHO as the preferred method for the measurement of the protein value in human nutrition. The method is based on comparison of the concentration of the first limiting essential amino acid in the test protein with the concentration of that amino acid in a reference (scoring) pattern. This scoring pattern is derived from the essential amino acid requirements of the preschool-age child. The chemical score obtained in this way is corrected for true fecal digestibility of the test protein. PDCAAS values higher than 100% are not accepted as such but are truncated to 100%. Although the principle of the PDCAAS method has been widely accepted, critical questions have been raised in the scientific community about a number of issues. These questions relate to 1 ) the validity of the preschool-age child amino acid requirement values, 2 ) the validity of correction for fecal instead of ileal digestibility and 3 ) the truncation of PDCAAS values to 100%. At the time of the adoption of the PDCAAS method, only a few studies had been performed on the amino acid requirements of the preschool-age child, and there is still a need for validation of the scoring pattern. Also, the scoring pattern does not include conditionally indispensable amino acids. These amino acids also contribute to the nutrition value of a protein. There is strong evidence that ileal, and not fecal, digestibility is the right parameter for correction of the amino acid score. The use of fecal digestibility overestimates the nutritional value of a protein, because amino acid nitrogen entering the colon is lost for protein synthesis in the body and is, at least in part, excreted in urine as ammonia. The truncation of PDCAAS values to 100% can be defended only for the limited number of situations in which the protein is to be used as the sole source of protein in the diet. For evaluation of the nutritional significance of proteins as part of mixed diets, the truncated value should not be used. In those cases, a more detailed evaluation of the contribution of the protein to the amino acid composition of the mixed diet is required. From such an evaluation, it appears that milk proteins are superior to plant proteins in cereal-based diets. J. Nutr. 130: 1865S1867S, 2000. KEY WORDS: protein quality amino acid score scoring pattern digestibility critical evaluation It is well accepted that the nutritional value of proteins may differ substantially depending on their (essential) amino acid composition and digestibility. For many years, bioassays, mainly with rats, were the methods of choice to assess the nutritional value of proteins. This value was expressed innutritional value of proteins....
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